Saturday, October 1, 2022

Manchester City transfers: Acquiring Sergio Gomez shows Pep Guardiola’s side can spend smart as well as big

Manchester City have remained busy in the summer transfer window, landing Spanish fullback Sergio Gomez from Anderlecht on Tuesday. After making 49 appearances for the Belgian club last season, the left back joins Pep Guardiola’s team and adds instant, proven depth behind Joao Cancelo. A Spain U-21 player, he’s played for Barcelona B, Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Dortmund II, Huesca and Anderlecht, but gets his big move to the Etihad in a deal worth €13 million, according to ESPN. After missing out on Marc Cucurella, with the defender joining Chelsea from Brighton, Pep Guardiola now gets another player he knows well, and it’s another addition that opponents will need to be wary of. 

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The connections between Guardiola and Gomez aren’t immediately apparent, but look a little deeper and they’re there. Guardiola was still managing at at Barca when Gomez was at the famed La Masia academy as a highly-regarded youth player. Additionally, long time City defender Vincent Kompany managed Gomez at Anderlecht last season, before Kompany took the West Bromwich Albion job, giving Guardiola a personal connection to what type of player Gomez is now, and, more importantly for a 21-year-old defender, what he can become. 

Gomez is a talented, rising star who has also shown an ability to also play left midfield and left winger, and City are at a point where they can afford to take a chance on a player that most didn’t expect to see on their radar. It wouldn’t be surprising if this move ultimately doesn’t work, after all the jump from Belgium to the Premier League is a big one, but, at worst, they’ve spent €13 million on a player that doesn’t make an impact. That’s less than a quarter of what Chelsea paid for Cucurella. That’s a chance they can afford to take. And Gomez doesn’t have much pressure on him as he comes to the Etihad. He’ll back up Cancelo on the left and likely also get minutes when right back Kyle Walker is rested, since Cancelo is able to play on either side.

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Gomez is a young prospect who provides immediate depth at a cheap price. Regardless of how he performs, they still have a net profit of over $40 million when it comes to summer transfers after selling both Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko to Arsenal, while Raheem Sterling was sold to Chelsea, among other moves. That’s especially impressive since in addition to Gomez City have made two major signings this summer, bringing in Kalvin Phillips from Leeds for $53 million and, obviously, the star of the summer, striker Erling Haaland for $66 million.

This is actually the first time since 2005-06 that City have brought in more money in transfers than they’ve spent. There is still time for that to change, but it’s being able to move players they weren’t counting on for significant amounts of money, is the sign of a well run team. Paying a lot for stars, and reasonable amounts for backups is the way to build a squad that is both elite in top level talent and deep, while also not risking running afoul of Financial Fair Play regulations. 

The last time City made money from transfers it was a completely different world. It was before the takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group, at a time they were spending $13 million total on the likes of Georgio Samaras and Darius Vassell, and selling guys Nicolas Anelka and Paulo Wanchope. Just two years prior, they spent $4.13 million on American Claudio Reyna from Sunderland. Those were times when City weren’t even a middle-of-the-road English club, but rather struggling for Premier League survival.

Now, Gomez comes in and replaces Zinchenko, who City sold to Arsenal for around £30 million this summer, a mere 2000% more than they spent on him from FC Ufa in 2016. Moves like that set modern Manchester City apart. Sure, they still spend incredibly shocking amounts on players, but they also buy low (and young) and sell high. 

A savvy, smart Man City in the transfer market doesn’t bode well for those competing with them. It’s one thing to have money. It’s another to have money and spend it well. The big signings get all the attention but it’s the little ones like Zinchenko and Gomez that are the sign of a front office firing on all cylinders. When the price got too high for Cucurella they didn’t break the bank, they found a reasonable alternative. Buying stars is how you win, not wasting money on players who aren’t stars, that’s how you keep winning year after year.

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